by Susan Golden
Every day, potential and existing clients ask us the same question; how long will it take to get a decision on my Social Security Disability ("SSD") claim? A few years ago, our answer was an average of 6-9 months at the initial application ("IA"), and then another 6 months or so if the IA was denied and the claim had to go to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review ("ODAR") for a hearing. Today, the answer to that question has changed significantly, and not in a good way.
The Social Security Administration's ("SSA") budget has been cut by 10% over the past several years while the number of beneficiaries it serves has increase by 13% during that time. The number of people waiting for hearings has increased to over 1.14 million people. In addition to that, there are over 3.6 million claimant's approved cases pending at the Payment Centers (where claimants' retro-active benefits are processed) which has increased the amount of time a claimant has to wait to receive their benefits.
In addition to the budget cuts, the current administration issued a government -wide hiring freeze on January 23, 2017. Between the budget cuts and the hiring freeze, the delays the SSA is experiencing will only increase. And due to the budget cuts, the SSA's plan for hiring more judges and support staff to relieve some of these delays will now be impossible. The bottom line is, expect to wait a very, very long time if you plan on applying for SSD benefits.